Eden Valley is a small South Australian town in the Barossa Ranges. It is said that it was named by the surveyors of the area after they found the word ‘Eden’ carved into a local tree. Eden Valley gives its name to the wine growing region that shares its western boundary with the Barossa Valley wine region.
Situated between 400 - 600 metres above sea level, the Eden Valley provides perfect cool climate conditions for long, slow ripening with approximately 500 hectares of mixed varietal vines. The topography is rugged and varied, with the geographical formations stretching from Truro in the north, Keyneton to the east, through the higher altitude microclimate of High Eden and with the southern edge touching Mt Pleasant.
There is considerable overlap in the operations of the two wine regions. As several wineries have vineyards located in one and source grapes from the other. But the regions themselves are quite distinct in topography, altitude, temperature, viticultural practices and therefore flavour profiles.
Englishman Joseph Gilbert planted the first Eden Valley vineyard Pewsey Vale in 1847; and there are still a number of century old vineyards producing exceptional vintages. Small blocks of dry grown grapes are nurtured alongside younger plantings, owned by a combination of larger producers and small family owned businesses. The region is of a similar size to the Barossa Valley wine region, and is well known for producing high quality Riesling and also Shiraz wines.
The word ‘valley’ in the name is actually misleading when applied to the Eden Valley. It is more a series of dispersed hills and steep slopes of varied aspects giving each vineyard site a different microclimate. Vineyards are scattered throughout the region to make the most of these variations. By contrast the Barossa Valley is flatter allowing the landscape to be dominated by neat rows of vines. In fact the Eden Valley region has more in common with the Adelaide Hills wine region to the south, than to the Barossa.
Even though the first vines were planted in the late 1840’s - until the 1950s the region reverted back to livestock to make a living, as irrigation was impractical. The 1950s saw a resurgence in the region’s fortunes, thanks to the likes of Henschke, Yalumba and the famous Pewsey Vale vineyard, along with the Heggies vineyard with their Chardonnay and Viognier wines.
The Eden Valley wine region displays nutrient poor yellow podzolic, sandy and pink quartz soils over decomposed gneiss and granite. Due to the rocky nature of the soils, irrigation is largely provided by dams & planting densities are higher than average. Compared to Clare Valley, Eden Valley is a marginally higher in altitude, notably cooler temperatures and with similar sunshine hours. The cooler climate provides optimum conditions for long, slow ripening of the grapes, which generally retain acidity and developing complex flavours on the vine, allowing for tremendous aging potential.
As expected the style of the locally crafted Riesling, Chardonnay and Viognier wines, show fine elegance, floral and mineral notes; with none of the wines requiring acidification. Riesling is the varietal of choice in this wine region; it rivals its more famous northerly wine neighbour the Clare Valley in the production of high quality wines and more recently Pinot Gris. The families producing wines in the region are extremely passionate, committed to producing unique, hand crafted wines and their cellar-door hospitable is hard to beat.